Green lobby insists on Mepa board resignation
New information on the controversial Ramla l-Hamra development has re-ignited animosities between the Malta Environment and Planning Authority and the environmental NGO Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar over the project.

MaltaToday reported last Wednesday that the authority had turned down an application for a single villa and a swimming pool in 1995 in the same area where Mepa approved the development of a 23-unit tourist complex.

Among other things, the 1995 development was refused on the basis that it was considered to be "unacceptable urbanisation".

The FAA yesterday recalled another similar refusal going back to 1993 on the Ramla hillside. "This highlights a departure from policy in an evident U-turn by the Mepa board," the FAA said, reiterating its call for the board's resignation.

Mepa, however, defended itself, accusing the NGO of not getting its facts right. The authority said that it has no records of an application in 1993. The FAA, however, highlighted a case which is not sited on the Ulysses Lodge footprint but in the area.

With regard to the 1995 development, Mepa said that the application was for a residential development and not a tourist complex in an outside development zone.

Moreover, Mepa said that the application was not only for the rehabilitation of an existing building but included a substantial extension and the construction of terraces and pools.

While the 1995 development covers some 423 square metres, however, the latest development covers 7,600 square metres and stretches over large undeveloped land which Mepa considers as "disturbed".

FAA coordinator Astrid Vella said "these verdicts contrast sharply with the latest Ramla decision giving the green light for a development of 23 villas with pools".

She insisted that, unlike 1995, Malta now has to conform to stringent EU environment regulations which logically lead to fewer permits being accepted outside the development zone rather than an increase.

"Since the Mepa policies on the landscape at Ramla l-Hamra are constant, Mepa is guilty of gross negligence, since no one on the Mepa board seems to have studied, still less upheld, Mepa's 1995 decision on the very same site in question. For this reason, the FAA concludes it has no other option but to repeat its previous call for the resignation of the Mepa board."
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26 Jul 2007 by